18 Time-Tested Tips For Camping With Kids

Photo by Josh Willink

Here are 18 of my favorite tips for camping with kids, these came in handy for us when we went camping with our kids the first few times.

I spent days putting this list together before going camping with our kids. It has made our camping trips easier and I am pretty confident it will make yours too.

Most of the tips below are geared toward going camping with kids of age up to 10 years of age (roughly). I still suggest you check out the article if your kids are older, just leave the tips for camping with younger kids out.

I split the tips into 3 subcategories to make orientation easier. Enough said, enjoy 🙂

Table Of Contents

Preparation Tips For Camping With Kids

Choose a camping style that suits your family

When camping with your kiddos, it’s important to choose a camping style that will suit your family the best. If you’re not sure where to start, here is a brief explanation.

Best Camping Styles For Camping With Kids

Tent Camping
tips for camping with kids, tent camping

This is the traditional form of camping and it can be done in a variety of locations, from your backyard to a remote campsite.

When camping in a tent, you will need to bring all of your gear with you, including a tent, sleeping bags, and a camp stove.

Tent camping can be a great option for families who want to experience the outdoors without giving up all the comforts of home.

Rooftop Camping
tips for camping with kids, rooftop camping

Rooftop camping is the ideal option for families who want to camp in their vehicles. Rooftop camping involves setting up a tent on the roof of your car, SUV, or van.

This type of camping is convenient because it allows you to camp in your vehicle, which means you can bring all of your belongings with you. We all know kids can be unpredictable, so having your gear with you at all times can be a lifesaver!

RV/Trailer Camping
rv/trailer camping

RV or trailer camping may be the best option for your family if you want to camp with young kids. This is because RV (and trailer too) allows you to have all the comforts of home while still being in nature.

Kids are also able to run around and explore more easily in an RV campground since they are not confined to a tent.

If you choose to go RV or trailer camping, you could book a spot in a campground that has activities for kids such as a playground or pool.

The cons to RV and trailer camping are the high costs of purchasing or renting one compared to tent camping.

There are multiple websites where you can rent either an RV or trailer like rvshare.com, outdoorsy.com or cruiseamerica.com

Camping Types By Campsite Location

Frontcountry Camping
tips for camping with kids - front country camping

Frontcountry camping is the most common style of camping and usually involves driving to a campground that has pre-established amenities like fire pits, picnic tables, playgrounds, bathrooms, and more.

You are also very likely to meet other campers at frontcountry campgrounds.

Camping in this type of location is often easier with children as it provides more amenities and is more comfortable than backcountry camping.

When camping with your kids, you want them to have the best experience possible, so choosing a front-country campsite is often the best option.

Backcountry Camping
tips for camping with kids, backcountry camping

Backcountry camping is a more rustic experience where you have to hike or bike to your campsite. These campsites are located out in the wilderness and don’t offer many amenities.

At the backcountry campgrounds, you are in many instances camping alone, without other campers.

This can be a great option for families who love being outdoors and don’t mind carrying all their gear with them.

Backcountry camping with kids can be a great bonding experience as you all work together to find the perfect spot and set up camp.

Get kids involved in the process

When you’re planning a camping trip with kids, it’s important to involve them in the process as much as possible. This will help ensure that they have a good time and can fully enjoy the experience.

So, let them help pack, choose their favorite toy to bring with them, choose what they would like to eat, what they would like to see, and more.

They’ll feel like they’re a part of the trip and be more likely to have a great time. For instance, my son always likes to bring his stuffed animal when we go camping. It’s a small thing, but it means a lot to him and helps him feel comfortable in a new environment.

Create the perfect meal plan and grocery list

A good meal plan is essential for a successful camping trip, even more so when you are camping with kids. Generally, you want to make sure you have a meal plan for every day of the trip, and that the meals are simple to prepare. A few examples might be hot dogs, pancakes, scrambled eggs, and pasta.

The next step is to prepare a grocery list. Take each meal and write down ingredients, that you don’t have at home, to be purchased before you leave.

Be sure to involve the kids in the process, they could be checking if you have ingredients at home or write the list down for you.

This will help them feel excited over the trip, and they’re likely to be more cooperative. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to teach them about meal planning and grocery shopping. Going shopping with your kids makes them more invested in the trip and less likely to be picky eaters while camping.

Don’t forget your kid’s favorite snacks, fruits, and vegetables. And of course, don’t forget the coffee!

Book the right campground

If you want to have a memorable and fun camping trip with your kids, make sure to book the right campground. Look for campgrounds that have amenities that suit the needs of your kids.

For example, if your kids love to swim, look for a campground that has a swimming pool. If they love to play on the beach, look for a campground at the beach. If they love to play ball, look for a campground with a ballfield and so on.

Look for a campsite that has bathrooms and showers so that your kids can stay clean and comfortable.

If this is your first few times camping with kids, you may want to stay close to home, just in case.

Don’t forget to book a site at the campground of your choice well in advance, as the best ones are oftentimes booked out first.

By booking the right campsite, you will set the stage for a fun and memorable trip for your whole family.

Make packing easy

pack gear into bins with lids

Organization is key when packing for a camping trip, especially if you’re bringing kids along.

Packing everything in large bins with lids helps to keep things tidy and makes it easier to find what you need. Sort the bins into categories like food and snacks, cooking gear, kitchen supplies, games and toys, toiletries, etc.

This way you can stay organized throughout the trip and avoid making a mess at the campsite. Plus, it’ll be easier to pack up when it’s time to go home.

Also, be sure to pack an extra bin with essentials like first-aid supplies and flashlights. You’ll be glad you did if you need them!

Pro tip: Label the bins with what they contain so you can easily grab the right one when you need it.

Give it a try at home

give it a try at home, tips for camping with kids

You want to be pretty sure that your kids are going to like camping before you go and drop a lot of money on gear and make reservations.

Put up the tent in the backyard, sleep in it overnight, and make some s’mores over the fire pit. Just get a feel for what the kids think before you commit to a whole trip.

And if they love it, great! You’re on your way to making some amazing memories.

Check the weather forecast and pack the right clothes

check the weather forecast
weather.gov screenshot

Always check the weather forecast and pack accordingly.

Make sure to pack extra clothes for the kids as they always go dirty, wet, or muddy while camping. Literally, kids love splashing in puddles and rolling around in the dirt. It’s all part of the camping experience!

Be sure to pack layers for colder weather as well. The temperature can drop at night, even in the summer.

Pro tip: Bring a small laundry bag to keep dirty clothes separate from the rest of your things. This will make packing up at the end of the trip much easier.

My favorite weather forecast website is weather.gov and accuweather.com

Don’t forget the basic first aid items

Don't forget the basic first aid items

Anything can happen when you’re out in nature, so it’s important to be prepared for minor injuries. Pack a small first-aid kit with bandages, band-aids, thermometer, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, etc.

Stay flexible even after all this planning

What’s funny about kids is that they don’t really care about our plans. So it’s best to just be flexible and go with the flow.

This means that you might have to adjust your activities and meal plans accordingly. But that’s all part of the fun, right?

Campsite Tips For Camping With Kids

Stick to the home routine as much as possible

Going to bed and waking up at the same time, having regular mealtimes, and maintaining as much of your kid’s daily routine as possible, will make your life after you return from the camping trip easier.

And it will help your kids feel comfortable while they’re away from home. The more comfortable and familiar your kids feel, the more they’ll enjoy their camping trip. And happy kids mean happy parents!

Make the nights magical

What I mean is use lights (all kinds of them) to make your campsite a great experience for your kids, even at night. This tip is especially important if your kid (like almost every kid out there) is scared of the dark.

You can use lanterns, fairy lights, and even glow sticks. The sky is the limit. Just make sure you don’t disturb your camping neighbors.

Make a cozy sleeping area

When camping, you are out of your element and in nature. It can be scary for young kids, so make sure their sleeping area is as cozy as possible.

Bring pillows, an air mattress, and plenty of blankets. You might even want to bring a nightlight (or use the previous tip) to help them feel more comfortable. And be prepared to snuggle if they need it!

You want to mimic the comforts of home as much as possible to help them feel safe and secure.

Be creative and design a space that they will want to spend time in and look forward to coming back to each night.

Create a washing up area

Kids tend to be messy, so it’s important to create a designated washing-up area for them. This can be as simple as a water jug and soap further back from the tent.

Be sure to bring towels so that they can dry their hands after washing. This area can also be used to wash fruits and vegetables.

Tips For Activities While Camping With Kids

Prepare a list of activities and games

natures scavenger hunt

Research the campsite’s local area for available activities and sightseeing spots.

Don’t forget to bring your family’s favorite games. Board games, balls, chalk, and squirt guns are always a hit. Binoculars and magnifying glasses can help them explore their surroundings.

And be sure to give them time to just explore on their own. It’s amazing what they’ll find. My daughter especially likes the nature scanger hunt game, you can easily create it yourself, use the example above or download other versions online.

Geocaching is a great way to get them moving and exploring. You can also use the time to teach your kids how to use a compass, how to tell types of trees or mushrooms apart, and more.

With a little planning, your camping trip with kids will be a breeze. They’ll have so much fun, they’ll want to go again and again. So get out there and explore nature with your kids. They’ll love it. And you will too.

Make the use of the outdoors

kids playing outdoors

The main aim of camping is to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and to enjoy nature.

You can also take this opportunity to teach your kids a few things while you are out in the wilderness. In fact, camping is the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about nature.

You can go birdwatching, learn about bugs, how to use a compass, what to do if you are lost in the wilderness, or practice the no trace principles.

Encourage respect for the environment and let the kids understand that we are only visitors to nature.

Look for teaching moments, your kids will love learning about the great outdoors while camping with you.

A notebook and colored pencil are great camping gear for kids so they can document their findings and sketches while on the trip.

Bring or rent bikes

rent or bring bikes

Bikes are highly recommended for campers with kids. They offer a great way to explore the area around your campsite and beyond. Biking is one of the favorite activities of almost every kid out there, which makes it a great addition to your entertainment list.

If you don’t have bikes or cannot carry them with you to the campsite, consider renting them from a local bike shop or you could give rentabikenow.com a try.

Bring an extra tent

Another good tip for camping with kids is to bring an extra tent for the kids to play in if your car’s trunk space allows it. Put the toys, extra blankets, pillows, lights, and anything else that makes it comfy for your kids in there.

With an extra tent, the sleeping area stays clean of toys and it’s a great way to tire your kids out before bedtime, so they’ll actually sleep through the night!

And it comes especially handy if you are experiencing rainy weather as the kids will have somewhere to play.

Enjoy the moments and stay positive

No matter what happens while camping with kids, try to enjoy the moments and stay positive.

Things will go wrong, but that’s all part of the fun. Embrace the chaos and make memories that will last a lifetime.

In Conclusion

If you are anything like me you are now itching to get out there with your kids and give these tips for camping with kids a try.

Before you book your campsite, check out my guide on camping hacks and tips, that will make your next camping trip easier.